Latest on Luke Walton, Lakers

The Lakers will give new head coach Luke Walton a five-year contract with four seasons guaranteed, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The deal will be valued at $5MM to $6MM annually with incentives. Walton, who was hired Friday night to take over for Byron Scott, met the media today to answer questions about his plans in L.A.:

  • Despite playing under Knicks president Phil Jackson, Walton doesn’t plan to use the triangle, tweets Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. “I don’t think the triangle’s the most appropriate offense for the players that they have down there,” Walton said, adding that he plans a style similar to Golden State’s.
  • Walton met with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and co-owner and executive vice president Jim Buss on Thursday in Oakland to talk about the job (Twitter link). “I left the meeting thinking it went well,” Walton said. “I obviously didn’t know it would get done that quickly.” (Twitter link from Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times).
  • L.A. executives provided a detailed vision of the organization during that meeting, including several free agents they want to pursue this summer (Twitter link). “I think they have some young, talented players,” Walton said. “Obviously you need to mix in some vets. I’m excited about the pieces they have.” (Twitter link)
  • Walton, who will remain an assistant with the Warriors until their playoff run is complete, said it was hard to break the news to Golden State head coach Steve Kerr“I was a little bit nervous about making the call [to Kerr] because we have such a good thing going here,” Walton said (Twitter link). Several Warriors players said they will miss Walton when he leaves the team. “He’s obviously a guy that we want around but … he deserved it and it’s a dream job for him,” said Draymond Green (Twitter link). “It’s been very important for me to have someone to vent to … that’s how our relationship started.” (Twitter link).

Walton has dreamed of running the Lakers since Jackson used to bring him into coaching meetings during his time as a player with the team, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. She believes it’s the only job that would have made him leave Golden State, although he planned to interview with other teams to go through the experience. Shelburne calls Walton the “biggest free agent the Lakers have landed in years,” as he became the league’s most sought-after assistant when he led the Warriors to a 39-4 start during Kerr’s absence with health issues.

Walton’s first move should be to add some experienced assistants, opines J.A. Adande in an ESPN 5-on-5 chat. With Walton never officially having been a head coach before, Adande says he could benefit from a couple of veterans on the bench in the same way that Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams helped Kerr last season.

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